The Government of Canada just gave Darren Entwhistle of Telus enormous incentive not to serve rural and remote areas. It is raising wholesale prices across the country to enhance “the phone companies’ ability to invest in building high-quality networks, particularly in rural and remote areas.”
Entwhistle is one of the sharpest CEOs in telecom. He’d be a fool to invest more than the minimum in rural areas That way, the government will continue to give the company boons like this.
Where will the money go?
In May 2019, TELUS announced its intention to target ongoing semi-annual dividend increases, with the annual increase in the range of 7 to 10 per cent from 2020 through to the end of 2022. This announcement further extends TELUS’ multi-year dividend growth program originally announced in May 2011 and extended for three additional years in each of May 2013 and May 2016. This program provides investors with ongoing clarity with respect to TELUS’ dividend growth model.
My experience is that 2/3rds of improved cashflow goes to shareholders, not investment. That will almost certainly be true here, Telecom worldwide is a slow growth business due to cost per bit falling more than demand increases. If raising dividends is a priority, that’s where the money will go.
Telcos worldwide are holding back on rural coverage in order to get subsidies and government boons like this.
Canada has long had superior networks in the cities and terrible rural coverage.